Research in Mass Communication: A Practical Guide

Article excerpt

Poindexter, Paula M. and McCombs, Maxwell E. (2000). Research in Mass Communication: A Practical Guide. Boston: St. Martin's. 451 pp. hardcover, $53.

One of the ongoing challenges that professionally oriented journalism and mass communication programs face is how to incorporate an undergraduate research methods course. On the one hand, faculty believe students need exposure to a variety of research and data analysis techniques. They trust that students will either learn how to conduct empirical research or, at minimum, learn how to evaluate research in their news reporting or professional decision-making. On the other hand, students seem anxious to learn skills that appear immediately professionally applicable. The challenge is making learning about research seem as relevant as a news writing class. Research in Mass Communication: A Practical Guide is an excellent resource to accomplish just that.

The popular research methods textbooks tend to serve audiences that are expected to do academic research, but this volume is written for the student who wants to pursue a professional media career. It does so by using a rich collection of relevant examples, showing how research results can be used by media professionals in their decision-making. It also shows students how to report research results to a variety of audiences, including professional clients as well as academic ones.

The book takes the student through the entire research process, beginning with the pre-research phase. This includes the identification of a research problem or question by a decisionmaker, who can be an executive, manager, creative director, editor, or producer. It also includes identification of the most appropriate method to address the problem. …